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DID YOU READ

Eight memorably disgusting cinematic meals.

Eight memorably disgusting cinematic meals. (photo)

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The most important event of last week was clearly the introduction of KFC’s Double Down, a sandwich that replaces the bread with chicken patties, to the mass public. I’m not going to try it, because I’m terrified that it could dehydrate me for the rest of the day (1380 mg of sodium!), but it’s certainly a food milestone of some kind.

In honor of the culinary Kraken being released upon the world, here are eight memorable cinematic meals, for better or worse.

Actually, just worse.

04192010_existenz.jpg“eXistenZ” (1999)

Everything in David Cronenberg’s world is potentially an orifice, and with food that goes double — think of Brundlefly explaining his diet or the diner where Viggo Mortensen works in “A History of Violence,” just waiting to serve up some cracked bones alongside the coffee. Enter the “gristle gun,” a hypnotically vile weapon made out of the ingredients of a not-quite-typical Chinatown lunch. To be honest, it seems like Jude Law’s whining about nothing, but there really is something fetus-y looking on the plate, which could undo anyone’s appetite.

04192010_ambrosia.jpg“Edward Scissorhands” (1990)

There’s a lot going on in “Edward Scissorhands” (aside from the leftover teenage self-loathing), but one of the nicer strands involves Tim Burton’s fascination with all things suburban. In the otherwise unilluminating DVD commentary track, he notes in passing his love of the kind of photos taken at Sears, with a smiling face posed against a formless blue background. Another aspect of suburbia that pops up is the “Ambrosia Salad” that Joyce (Kathy Baker) brings to the backyard barbeque, the weirdly pink fruit concoction she spoon-feeds hapless young Edward in hyper-sexualized style in front of all the neighbors. It looks nothing like what Wikipedia claims it should.

04192010_doom.jpg“Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” (1984)

The most problematic sequel of the ’80s arrived on a head of bad publicity, with levels of cartoonish gore and violence that led to the creation of the PG-13 rating (alongside the Spielberg-produced “Gremlins”; 1984 was a good year for Spielberg to destroy the fondness the parents of American felt for him after “E.T.”). Alongside complaints about the rampant stereotyping of India, some people were definitely not happy about Indy sitting down to enjoy a traditional Indian dinner of… monkey brains, live snakes and eyeball soup. Later, though, he has to drink blood (or at least the “Blood of Kali”), so clearly he was just getting started.

04192010_meat.jpg“Meat Love” (1989)

Jan Svankmajer’s career as a surrealist animator has often involved a fascination/revulsion with food — take 2000’s “Little Otik,” in which a child carved out of a log begins to display “Little Shop of Horrors” levels of hunger. You can speculate that it’s because Svankmajer, who grew up in Communist Czechoslovakia, was a member of a society where food was anything but disposable and thoughtless, but that still wouldn’t explain his queasy fascination with the tactility and weird feeling of meat against your fingers, as seen in the short below, in which two cutlets conduct a romance.

04192010_hannibal.jpg“Hannibal” (2001)

Before “Hannibal,” we were mostly asked to envision Hannibal Lecter’s cannibalistic escapades for ourselves. When Ridley Scott took on the franchise, though, he went all out, culminating in the infamous bit in which Lecter lobotomizes rude FBI agent Ray Liotta, cutting out a section of his brain, briefly pan-frying it, then feeding it back to him. It’s really only marginally more sophisticated than, say, “Cannibal Holocaust” — the veneer of culture Scott lays on is less than convincing — but it’s undeniably funny/gross.

04192010_oldboy.jpg“Oldboy” (2003)

After 15 years incarcerated by unknown people and forced to sit by helplessly while his wife is murdered and his daughter sent into foster care, Oh Dae-su (Choi Min-sik) is not in a good frame of mind. So he wanders into a restaurant, announces he wants to eat something alive, and chows down on a live octopus — something the actor, bravely, actually did. (Eating live octopus in Korea is not unheard of — that it’s whole rather than chopped up is Park Chan-wook’s special touch.) Later, Oh falls in love with a sushi chef, which seems strangely appropriate.

04192010_taxidermia.jpg“Taxidermia,” 2006

Surely, György Pálfi consciously set out to make the most disgusting film in history with “Taxidermia,” a vigorous all-purpose assault of every revolting image you could possibly dig up — you have admire its sense of purpose. Palfi’s broadly allegorical portrait of Hungarian life in the 20th century uses speed-eating and the fetishization of consumption for its own sake as the starting point of its middle segment, which has lots of vomiting, morbidly obese people and saliva-clogged mastication. This is not for the faint of heart.

04192010_hell.jpg“Drag Me To Hell” (2009)

“Drag Me To Hell” is more prototypically a “Sam Raimi movie” than “Spider-Man 3,” but it has some echoes of that underappreciated flick. In “Spider-Man 3,” everything stops for a few minutes so that Bruce Campbell can camp it up as a very ’30s-style “French waiter,” officious accent and all. in “Drag Me To Hell,” the dinner awkwardness ante is upped when Alison Lohman meets boyfriend Justin Long’s parents; a class-tension-ridden dinner (the parents don’t like her homely cake) becomes more problematic when Lohman coughs up a fly. Unfortunately, this isn’t the worst thing that’ll happen to her in the movie.

[Photos: “eXistenZ,” Dimension Films, 1999; “Edward Scissorhands,” 20th Century Fox, 1990; “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom,” Paramount, 1984; “Meat Love,” Image Entertainment, 1989; “Hannibal,” MGM, 2001; “Taxidermia,” E1 Entertainment, 2006; “Drag Me To Hell,” Universal, 2009]

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…

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IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.

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IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).

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IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.

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IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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Reality? Check.

Baroness For Life

Baroness von Sketch Show is available for immediate consumption.

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Baroness von Sketch Show is snowballing as people have taken note of its subtle and not-so-subtle skewering of everyday life. The New York Times, W Magazine, and Vogue have heaped on the praise, but IFC had a few more probing questions…

IFC: To varying degrees, your sketches are simply scripted examples of things that actually happen. What makes real life so messed up?

Aurora: Hubris, Ego and Selfish Desires and lack of empathy.

Carolyn: That we’re trapped together in the 3rd Dimension.

Jenn: 1. Other people 2. Other people’s problems 3. Probably something I did.

IFC: A lot of people I know have watched this show and realized, “Dear god, that’s me.” or “Dear god, that’s true.” Why do people have their blinders on?

Aurora: Because most people when you’re in the middle of a situation, you don’t have the perspective to step back and see yourself because you’re caught up in the moment. That’s the job of comedians is to step back and have a self-awareness about these things, not only saying “You’re doing this,” but also, “You’re not the only one doing this.” It’s a delicate balance of making people feel uncomfortable and comforting them at the same time.

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IFC: Unlike a lot of popular sketch comedy, your sketches often focus more on group dynamics vs iconic individual characters. Why do you think that is and why is it important?

Meredith: We consider the show to be more based around human dynamics, not so much characters. If anything we’re more attracted to the energy created by people interacting.

Jenn: So much of life is spent trying to work it out with other people, whether it’s at work, at home, trying to commute to work, or even on Facebook it’s pretty hard to escape the group.

IFC: Are there any comedians out there that you feel are just nailing it?

Aurora: I love Key and Peele. I know that their show is done and I’m in denial about it, but they are amazing because there were many times that I would imagine that Keegan Michael Key was in the scene while writing. If I could picture him saying it, I knew it would work. I also kind of have a crush on Jordan Peele and his performance in Big Mouth. Maya Rudolph also just makes everything amazing. Her puberty demon on Big Mouth is flawless. She did an ad for 7th generation tampons that my son, my husband and myself were singing around the house for weeks. If I could even get anything close to her career, I would be happy. I’m also back in love with Rick and Morty. I don’t know if I have a crush on Justin Roiland, I just really love Rick (maybe even more than Morty). I don’t have a crush on Jerry, the dad, but I have a crush on Chris Parnell because he’s so good at being Jerry.

Jenn: I LOVE ISSA RAE!

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IFC: If you could go back in time and cast yourselves in any sitcom, which would it be and how would it change?

Carolyn: I’d go back in time and cast us in The Partridge Family.  We’d make an excellent family band. We’d have a laugh, break into song and wear ruffled blouses with velvet jackets.  And of course travel to all our gigs on a Mondrian bus. I feel really confident about this choice.

Meredith: Electric Mayhem from The Muppet Show. It wouldn’t change, they were simply perfect, except… maybe a few more vaginas in the band.

Binge the entire first and second seasons of Baroness von Sketch Show now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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G.I. Jeez

Stomach Bugs and Prom Dates

E.Coli High is in your gut and on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Brothers-in-law Kevin Barker and Ben Miller have just made the mother of all Comedy Crib series, in the sense that their Comedy Crib series is a big deal and features a hot mom. Animated, funny, and full of horrible bacteria, the series juxtaposes timeless teen dilemmas and gut-busting GI infections to create a bite-sized narrative that’s both sketchy and captivating. The two sat down, possibly in the same house, to answer some questions for us about the series. Let’s dig in….

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IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

BEN: Hi ummm uhh hi ok well its like umm (gets really nervous and blows it)…

KB: It’s like the Super Bowl meets the Oscars.

IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

BEN: Oh wow, she’s really cute isn’t she? I’d definitely blow that too.

KB: It’s a cartoon that is happening inside your stomach RIGHT NOW, that’s why you feel like you need to throw up.

IFC: What was the genesis of E.Coli High?

KB: I had the idea for years, and when Ben (my brother-in-law, who is a special needs teacher in Philly) began drawing hilarious comics, I recruited him to design characters, animate the series, and do some writing. I’m glad I did, because Ben rules!

BEN: Kevin told me about it in a park and I was like yeah that’s a pretty good idea, but I was just being nice. I thought it was dumb at the time.

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IFC: What makes going to proms and dating moms such timeless and oddly-relatable subject matter?

BEN: Since the dawn of time everyone has had at least one friend with a hot mom. It is physically impossible to not at least make a comment about that hot mom.

KB: Who among us hasn’t dated their friend’s mom and levitated tables at a prom?

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

BEN: There’s a lot of content now. I don’t think anyone will even notice, but it’d be cool if they did.

KB: A show about talking food poisoning bacteria is basically the same as just watching the news these days TBH.

Watch E.Coli High below and discover more NYTVF selections from years past on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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